If our planet is one big house, we are the kids inside of it. Humanity has been neglecting its chores for too long and making a mess that gets harder and harder to pick up. Any more, and Mother Nature could ground us all — forever. The environment needs us now more than ever, as some say our planet could be doomed to an ill-fate by 2030. Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to turn things around and live for a more sustainable future.
1. Save some energy
The route to a sustainable future begins with the habits you conduct at home, and there are plenty of energy-saving behaviors to adopt. If you’re looking for light, skip the switch and head for the windows. Opening up the blinds to let in natural light is a one-way ticket to energy savings.
Another good rule of thumb is to run your thermostat two degrees cooler in the winter and two degrees warmer in the summer. The difference in feeling will be negligible, but the difference in energy savings is significant.
2. Reuse what you can
Even the styles in your closet can be managed to benefit the environment. Buying used or vintage clothes can give you a sweet sense of fashion and minimize waste while also eliminating the need for new clothes to be manufactured. Reusable water bottles and grocery bags are staples of easy environmentalism and cut down on two large areas of unnecessary waste.
3. Travel cleaner
Because cars are large emitters of greenhouse gases and pollutants, the simplest way to travel more sustainably is to avoid them whenever possible. The best way to combat this is to cut out an engine and half your wheels, leaving you with a bike. Bicycles are a perfect example of sustainable transportation promoting a healthy lifestyle. If you don’t have a bike, you can still get in on the eco-friendly fun. The Outdoor Adventures Center on campus rents bikes for periods as long as a semester, and BikeLNK offers bike kiosks around town allowing you to pay a fee to hop on one of their public-use bikes for a short time.
If you’re forced to travel farther than pedals can take you, consider taking a bus. Lincoln has an extensive bus system running throughout the city, and all students get a free bus pass included with their student fees, making sustainable bus transportation an easy way to get you where you need to go. The University even offers “N-E Ride,” a free shuttle to the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s campus in Omaha.
If a car remains your only mobility option, you can still make sure you are doing all that you can to curb your emissions. Make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s intended pressure in order to roll smoother and, thus, use less gas. Turn your car off if you are planning on idling more than 10 seconds. Get your pals together to carpool, and make sure to invite your friend with a Prius.
4. Choose meals wisely
Hailing from a region that doesn’t hesitate to name a football team the Omaha “Beef,” meat plays a large role in the diets of many UNL students. Unfortunately, the meat industry, especially red meat, produces an excess of methane and other harmful greenhouse gases while simultaneously using a large amount of water. By cutting out or even cutting back on meat consumption, you can reduce harmful greenhouse gases and conserve water. The dining halls on campus cater to this and offer meatless options for every meal.
Another way you can eat for the benefit of the Earth is to portion your food more wisely in order to reduce food in the trash. Decomposing food waste creates methane, an ultra-powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. Not to mention, every half-eaten burrito that’s thrown out means wasted water and manufacturing resources used to make it.
5. Watch your waste
Waste management is a huge part of reducing human impact on the environment. A lot of the things we throw away often go unnoticed or uncared for. Actions as simple as skipping a plastic lid and straw at a fast food joint can amount to a big difference in the long run.
When possible, recycling is key to sustainability. Recycling at UNL is generally simple, with clearly marked recycling bins just around every corner. Just be sure to remove any food products before getting rid of it, as rotting food can jeopardize the entire haul of recyclables. Picking up litter on campus is also rewarding and a breeze, as trash cans are plentiful.
Living your daily life in a sustainable way is crucial to the future of the planet and consequently to the future of humanity. Following tips like these and getting involved with environmental organizations such as Sustain UNL are a great way to ensure that a beautiful and healthy planet remains forever.